Resource, Article

Melissa is a mom to active young children and her husband works long hours. She felt like her life was spinning out of control. Convinced that she’d keep perspective if she could to find even minutes alone with God, she asked her triad to hold her accountable to do that. She now finds regular...

June 11, 2012 0 0 comments
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God’s call to make disciples is undeniably clear. The strategy of how to go about disciple making can sometimes get fuzzy. Well-designed small groups of 8 – 12 are great environments for spiritual growth until the primary objective is lost and the natural tendency towards social fellowship...

June 5, 2012 0 6 comments
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How does Alpha work? Alpha is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests can explore the meaning of life and ask questions in a non-threatening, relaxed setting. The traditional Alpha course is 10 weeks long and includes a day or weekend long retreat half-way through the course. Alpha is simple and includes...

May 29, 2012 0 0 comments
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Looking for a way to mobilize more people in evangelism in 1999, a few of us at church stumbled on to the Alpha Course. We were drawn to it because it offered a simple way to involve people in bringing the Gospel to their friends. We got a small pilot group together, followed the instructions, and went for it. 

May 21, 2012 0 0 comments
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A metaphor that has helped me understand and lead small group ministry is this: Growing a small group discipleship ministry is like growing a garden. Small group coordinators and leaders must ask gardening questions. How would you answer these questions about your small group ministry? 

May 14, 2012 0 3 comments
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"Time flies when you're having fun."  I guess I would say that would be my mantra too having been the guide of the Network's Small Groups section for some sixteen months or so.  I don't know where the time went. And now that I'm moving on I thought I'd just do a little reflecting.

May 7, 2012 0 1 comments
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The Sonship material comes in various formats, some which are shorter and less intensive than others. When considering how to use Sonship, it should be noted that more is better. However, being exposed to the material in any of several formats has value.

April 25, 2012 0 0 comments
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Read an interview with Todd Murphy, a pastor who has incorporated the gospel into his own life and the life of his church. Learn how people who have been in the church all their life have been dramatically changed. In addition, discover how outreach is radically different when people in the church believe and live out the gospel in their own lives.

April 17, 2012 0 0 comments
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Sonship is written and taught from a Reformed perspective, and it moves our great theological truths from our heads into the nitty gritty of life. Its perspective is life changing and practical and sets a foundation for other forms of discipleship.

April 9, 2012 0 19 comments
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Discipleship. Spiritual Formation. Christian Formation. Spiritual Transformation. Missional Discipleship… Have you heard these terms and wondered which each meant?

April 2, 2012 0 0 comments
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I know for myself that I lead by doing and coming alongside potential and present leaders to encourage, support and train them.  It is usually the case that when there is a lack of leadership it is because there is no environment or atmosphere of leadership development happening in the church.

March 27, 2012 0 0 comments
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If you're going to include PB small groups as part of your disciple-making ministry, you will need to spend more time than most on a plan to initiate intentionality on moving people forward in their spiritual growth. People's natural tendency will be to stay comfortable and not become disciples or at least as Jesus intended them to.

March 13, 2012 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A recent comment by a reader mentioned their understanding of small group ministry was that everything from the choir to a group of people from the church who met to talk about gardening or scrapbooking was a small group. For years CRHM encouraged churches to adopt the Principle-Based model/...

February 21, 2012 0 0 comments
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Even though I've been writing and posting in small groups for over a year now, I haven't necessarily covered what you've been looking for.  Here's your chance to challenge me with some ideas for articles and blogs.

January 30, 2012 0 4 comments
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I’ve been looking forward to working my way through Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram.  If you read my review of Launching Missional Communities or my 5 part interview with Mike Breen, you know that if anyone has a handle on making disciples in the post-Christian...

January 16, 2012 1 0 comments
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This is a question I have been wrestling with for some time now.  There is such a disconnect from what people say they believe and follow and how they actually live.  Just recently I heard of two more (seems to be rampant as of late) marriages that have ended in divorce because of infidelity.  ...

January 5, 2012 0 2 comments
Q&A

Our church has just hired a part time ministry coordinator for small groups.  We want to equip her as well as possible and have some ideas about training but wonder if there are good ideas out there.  What should be on our list of things to have her experience and learn and participate in as she...

December 29, 2011 0 10 comments
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December is busy enough. So who wants another event?  Why not maximize your normal December activities by inviting someone along. Or you could use the most of the December opportunities to grow and start new small groups in January.  Here are some good things to consider...

December 12, 2011 0 0 comments
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Asking good questions is almost an art form in my opinion.  I'm talking about well-phrased, intentional, smart questions that open people up to get to the heart of the matter.  Smart, well-placed questions can take your small group to a whole new level of sharing and growth.

November 28, 2011 0 0 comments
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For many years within the small group realm there has been a lot of discussion on whether small groups should be open or closed. Perhaps our default mode especially in our CRC communities is to err on the side of being comfortable and thus short-circuiting true discipleship... This repost has a lot o reads but would be better with some discussion :-)

November 22, 2011 0 0 comments
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If you're in charge of small groups at your church I believe you will find this helpful.  I've had to learn these skills the hard way and they do work, believe me.

NOTE: the links in this article.  I know you'll appreciate those as well.

akd.

...
November 14, 2011 0 0 comments
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It seems the my consulting conversations as of late tend to focus around programmatic thinking.  There a more and more churches that are either just now beginning to start and develop small groups or are reassessing them.  Frankly I'm surprised that some churches are just beginning small groups...

October 31, 2011 1 0 comments
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It's great when you come across some great small group curriculum.  But it's even better when it's FREE.  Scott Boren's book Missional Small Groups has really been gathering ground and very worth reading. Check out the curriculum that he's developed helping groups to be groups and impact their communities. 

October 17, 2011 0 0 comments
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I haven’t seen any mention of a Women’s Ministry or women’s perspective in the CRC Network or the Banner, yet more than 50% of the members of the CRC are women. Rarely do I see anything other than Coffee Break in the CRC. This is a wonderful ministry but is that all Women’s Ministry is?

October 10, 2011 0 9 comments
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When I was a Youth Pastor I became fully certified as an instructor/trainer for Son Life Youth Ministries, a philosophy of youth ministry that was meant to help leaders and youth pastors focus the ministry to build disciples for Christ...

September 28, 2011 0 1 comments

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Glad that my post could help. I'd like to hear about your ministry. Shoot me an email: rawhite2@gmail.com

What Alan shares reminds me of James K Smith's book Desiring the Kingdom.  This past January at the Worship Symposium at Calvin College he talked about how the mall is a religious institution.  It was eye-opening to me as I began to see more comparisons such as sports stadiums.  We are loaded with consumeristic religion.  This is a great explanation of the lack of committment that churches are finding and we also see that when someone "gets it" in terms of a relationship with God and each other then they die to themselves or to the consumeristic religion.

I just witnessed it this past week at a youth group SERVE project where the kids were allowed to use their cell phones, iPods, etc. but because of the fellowship and worship that they were a part of those electronic devices were rarely used.  Without knowing it those kids understood that consumerism is a fading shot of happiness.

Shalom,

Craig

A couple years ago I heard Greg Hawkins of Reveal fame when in my home city with "Reveal on the Road" reflect on his pre-reveal days as one of the designers of Willow Creeks whole move to be a church of small groups through a meta-church structure. In the 90s when Willow was knee deep in this model, I went to a small groups workshop  at Willow in which they described and taught their small groups method. They talked of being a church OF small groups, rather than a church WITH small groups.

Back to Greg in Houston a couple years ago. He made mention that small groups are important, but stated that at Willow they had expected small groups to carry more weight than they could possibly handle. If you are familiar with that approach to small groups you will remember that small groups were supposed to provide affinity, spiritual care, discipleship and service all within one group. A nice clean theory, but as Greg said, too much to expect of small groups. In my own church plant, as we tried to implement the model it seemed to continually fall down at the place where one or another person in our church structure was weak as a disciple.

It seems to me that back then we saw small groups as an end, because we assumed that with many in small groups and the right meta-model all that stuff would happen well, efficiently and effectively. But it may be much better to see small groups as a means/a method/an approach that can possibly do discipleship quite well. I wonder if in the end discipleship is not a better goal and we ask ourselves questions like what is best building disciples?  Small groups? something else?

Sure Dale,

Ascending Leaders has curriculum such as "Charting Your Course"  "Spirit's Fruit" and "Giving Forgiveness. In the course of each lesson there is an accountable covenant that is read and agreed to.  Toward the end of the small group time ( i usually do it after the lesson/teaching/ or discussion time, we break off for 10 minutes into groups of three (go to two not four if you have an even number of participants.  There in the "triads" which is self-led, the people ask about an action point they were going to work on or what action point they will take away for the next week as a result of the just completed lesson.  Each one shares successes and failures.  It's high accountability and taking growth in Christ seriously.

Have Fun.

Pete

Hi Allen, (Dale here)

Hello Pete, to borrow a phrase - you had me at - It works.

Please tell me more about successful triads - I am intending to launch such in in the fall.

Dale

To answer your question Allen, I am convinced that Small Groups will only make disciples through intentional accountability. Ascending Leaders accomplishes this though "triads"  It is small groups dividing into smaller groups of 3 at the end of the time together and seriously asking each other the hard questions of what each person is doing to grow  more Christ-like as a result of the lessons recently covered.  It works.  

-Pete

Hey Allen,

  http://grouptone.com just opened, which is built for the purpose of resourcing small groups. Think SermonCentral, but for small groups.  It's new, so it still needs community submitted content, but thought it would go well on your list. 

Take care,

Thanks Alina.  There is a used copy available via Amazon.  I have found seven books on this topic and now need to select one without reading each of them.

Sorry to say that Faith Alive Christian Resources doesn't have anything current on Job. We did have it in the Revelation series some years ago. You might be able to find a used copy on Amazon or through another seller. It was titled Job: Challenging a Silent God (written by Joel Kok) and published under our old name, CRC Publications.

John, these are good questions worth asking.  Of course groups come in all different shapes and sizes; some churches have small groups based on principle (the CRC used to promot principle-based groups, but not so much anymore), that is people created small groups in the church based around interests mainly.  So people gathering to do scrapbooking could be seen as a viable small group in the church's ministry.  That is nice and all, but by-and-large wasn't really focusing people to grow in Christ and focus on the mission of God - -perhaps in small respsects some of this naturally happened, but that was not their purpose.  But when the focus of the ministry of the church is the misson of God to reach a lost and hurting world with the gospel and develop disciples as active kingdom members then the life and health of the group is very important as is it's focus to support the mission of the church.

Newness helps groups for sure as everyone is pretty much focused on the same page or at least should be.  Leaders direct that energy to foster community and engagement in the life of the group.  But what often happens is that enemy "comfort" rears it's ugly head already within the first year.  It doesn't take long before the group just wants to be a place of comfort and even subconsciously work toward that end.  They don't have a problem talking about God, Jesus and the bible, but they don't want the application questions to get too personal.  This is where things usually begin to break down in group life.  And it's hard to maintain the momentum of continued growth without a leve of dissonance.I think that if groups are honest with themselves and regularly take inventory and evaluate they may be willing to regularly deal with this, that is unless they'd prefer to stay comfortable -- safe and comfortable are not the same thing.  Such groups that evaluate regularly and stay committed can be the ones that last longer.

While a small group can sometimes be like a family it is not and the dynamics are significantly different.  For one, people arent' bound to the small group like blood kin and so people don't have that kind of intimacy with one another.  I think Mark raises imporant questions for groups to stay focused on the mission of growing disciples and reaching people.  If that's not happening are the groups being effective in the mission of God?

 

I've always appreciated something Rick Warren once said, "God is more interested in your character than your comfort." Where there is not dissonance there is no growth.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Just a question:   if a group only is effective for 18-24 months, is this because it is new?   Is the excitement of newness what sustains it?   Can a small group mission be achieved in 24 months?    How is a small group, or a large group, perceived to have purpose beyond the excitement of "newness"?   In a family (which is a type of small group), it takes 16 years to raise one child.  And it doesn't always seem new or even effective.   Yet there is a need to continue to fulfill the purpose and vision.   Is there an analogy here with a small group? 

posted in: I See Dead Groups

And then say good bye WELL, rather than a few key people dropping out, and it limping along on life support for a while before the others also acknowledge the elephant. If the group ends, then there's opportunity for each person in that group to find something MORE fulfilling to be involved in, which perhaps, would be a good direction for the emphasis when ending a group...

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Most certainly it's the hardest since people find it difficult to admit it.  While it's never easy, I have found that if the church has a good small groups director they can meet with the group and lead an evaluation with the members.  The hardest part is when there is little support like that and someone in the group is left to raise the issue of the elephant in the room -- very difficult indeed.  This is the reason why we always say that small groups ministry must have clear vision and mission so that it is easier to see when groups are not on the page.

Someone should give groups permission to die if that's what is necessary.  This is true for any ministry in the church.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Just re-reading some of the these comments and I find it ironic that while denouncing about "classifying people" you use a ethnically loaded classification and somewhat derogatory monicer ("waspish") for the person you mention.  Something to think about.

Oh most certainly depending on the circumstances.  Each situation is unique unto itself and must be responded to as such.

My questions is - how do you end a group well once you've realized it's dead? I think this is the hardest part of things.

posted in: I See Dead Groups

Try "The Storm Breaks" by Derek Thomas, part of the Welwyn Commentary Series, "Crying out for Vindication" by David R. Jackson, part of the Gospel According to the Old Testament Series, and Mike Mason's "The Gospel According to Job".

Dear Bill,

On the Book of Job, I would recommend "A Battle for Righteousness" by K.J. Popma, a Dutch scholar who wrote this book in the 1950's.  I have translated and published this from the Dutch, and have lots of copies still available.

Write me your address and I will send you a copy for you to review.

Eugene Peterson calls it, "... a new friend into our English speaking communities of faith. Popma, ..., gives us Job as true Christian Gospel, a profound immersion in God's ways with us."

You can e-mail me at   <jack@vanmeggelen.ca>

 

Jack

Karl,

Yes it is a good question and I will be exploring this a bit more in the next few weeks, perhaps some of it in article form.  I can say this, leaders really need to be trained in listening to the Holy Spirit and how they can lead especially during group application and prayer to slowly and intentionally encourage people to open up.  Certainly inviting the Holy Spirit to be present during the meeting.  But I'm also thinking about teaching people to really intercede during prayer leaving time for silence asking the Holy Spirit to specifically lay things on our hearts, not to rush and fill the emptiness. You know, teaching groups to practice this together.  Leaders really need to stay on top of it to make sure people don't rush it.    Things along those lines.

The nice thing about small groups is that you can try new things and openly talk about them.

 

More to come.....

Tantalizing!   I want to hear MORE on HOW small groups can help us be more open, and can help us be transformed.  Your first question is the POWER question: How DO small groups help people open up to the Holy Spirit?

Fernando,
I have the draft and am working my way through it. I will get back to you.

Allen

Good to hear Reg.

Allen, actually let me have you read/critique draft #2 here. (You can disregard draft #1 I sent earlier.) On those highlighted sections, I would appreciate if you could help fill in with your own inputs. Thanks again.

Hi Allen, I can;'t remember for sure if I sent you the paper for which I requested your critique. You can read/download it here from Google Docs. Kindly confirm if you received this. Thanks! --fernando

Fernando,

I have not yet received anything from you via email.  Have you sent it?

Depending on the circumstances, I could agree.

Hi Allen, it took me awhile to forgive your very late response to my posting. -:) Bottomline, I forgive you - and I hoipe you'd forgive me too for this equally late response. Good to know we're all under grace!

Allen, this is to alert you that I'll be sending you a separate email to request you to critique and contribute to a paper we at Leadership Exchange is currently drafting. It's a paper on Intentional Discipleship & Disciple-Making (IDDM) through a program we call 1:1 CHALLENGE. I will also be asking you and a few others with a passion for disciplemaking in the church to join a soon-to-be-formed advisory group for IDDM.

So as a "forgiven" Network Guide, Ihope to hear from you... sooner than later. Thanks!

Fernando del Rosario (aka, livingcrc)

Hi Allen:

Bought the book "Missional Small Groups", and am very excited about the approach. Would recommend this book to anyone looking at the purpose and place of small groups in their church / community.

Oh yes, I would hope that a leader would be self-reflective as well to make sure that they are not the person derailing and are sensitive enough to allow the group to go off course when necessary in order to meet a need within the group.  I would also hope that the church has the necessary coaching and oversite in place to minimize having people with their own significant  E.G.R. (for lack of a better term) issues to be leading.

 

Having said that, I would also hope that my leaders help keep the group focused on the overall intention, mission and purpose of the group so that "allowing the group to go off course when necesssary" in order to meet a need or someone's need does not become the central focus of the group in the sense that it becomes only a support group-- know what I mean? There are different kinds of groups for that sort of thing.   For example, as a pastor I can counsel someone only to a certain point then I can say, "I can support you spiritually and pray for you, but this issue needs to be dealt with in a deeper way than I can handle," referring them to a therapist.  There may be a season when a group gathers around someone in the group to focus on a severe or significant issue (ie, a failing marriage, job loss, a tragedy), but when a person or people begin to regularly reroute the group by their own personality issues or social inadequacies the leader needs some frame of reference, some tools in their tool box to make sure they can keep the group in focus while acknowledging the individuality and diversity within the group. 

Do you agree?

Allen:

You have a point (nuancing?) on the difference between a small group that meets regularly in a church basement and someone trying to exert political influence by assembling what they thought would be a power group fitting their agenda.

However, after re-reading the article I did not see anything that would preclude my example from fitting the implied definition of "small group." 

By "waspish" I meant the commonly used shorthand for white, anglo-saxon, protestant.  I thought that would be understood and it is partly why I included the ethnicity of the lady who literally took over the discussion.  She exhibited most of the traits of  E.G.R. Type #1, except "needy."  She definitely was not needy.  (If I mentioned her by name many in West Michigan would know who I am talking about, she is that iconic).

 

In my opinion, part of  what was missing in the article is something that I think Ken was also hinting at and which my example, I thought served to demonstrate.  Leaders have agendas and when someone does not fit their stereotype of audience, yes, e.g.r. applies, but I would hope they would be self-reflective enough to wonder if it did not extend to themselves.  Otherwise there is the danger of pigeonholing people.

I have been in many other small group sessions, in church basements, where the leader(s) also had agendas and one quite quickly got the idea that it could be the leader who fit E.G.R. Type 1.  (I have a concrete example in mind)

I would have appreciated if the author had stated the possibility that perhaps E.G.R. was required for the leader, as I felt was needed just a teeny bit for the article.  

Again, I think Ken had a point.

Not sure what you mean by "waspish", but nonetheless one would expect certain expectations at such a public meeting of collective representation to be agenda driven for sure. Of course I don't know the nature or content of the African-American lady's diverted path either (not that ethnicity should matter), and I'm not sure if that forum was the best place to air her laundry. But in a setting like that -- which is not the same as a weekly small group that has a completely different focus -- the opinion on that question can vary extensively as to what is appropriate or not.

I think that Steve did nuance his feelings and intentions in the beginning of the article. There is a sense of caring for the individual (the reason for the article among others) as well as the group for each area he describes. Certainly we all have "personality types", but some can be more harmful to group life than others.  But you may feel different.

I would be curious as to how you might write this article differently if it were a tool for a leader. How may you have nuanced it and brought more humility into the picture?  Knowing Steve, I think he would appreciate the feedback which I would be happy to send him.

Allen:

An example came to me after the last post:

I was invited by a chic, smart young lady from Planned Parenthood to be a part of a discussion for one of our state legislators, who happened to wield a lot of power.

Obviously, the discussion was to follow a certain path.  The leader was about as waspish (without the "p" perhaps) as you could get.  The group was diverse including a local African-American female with an iconic status.  She took over the discussion into paths absolutely contrary to the agenda of the Planned Parenthood leader.

The "diversity" opinion was very opiniated, domineering (likely, according to the article's definitions).

I cheered the entire time, silently saying "go, girl."

Allen:

I too have been a part of groups for many years, as well as a supervisor responsible for running group meetings.  

"Personality types" exist in all of us and there was a lack of recognition in the article of this.  

I have been in groups where the leader (find me a leader who doesn't) had an agenda, and that is fine but used their own limited agenda to be controlling, whenever the discussion went in productive paths they deemed beyond their control.

This article did a lot of labelling, lacked nuance and self-reflective humility.

 

 

 

 

I can appreciate your comments.  I thought this had potential to stir the pot.  All I can say is that having coached leaders for a very long time, this is one of the key areas that crops up all the time, and I do mean all the time.  I've seen leaders quit because of the frustration such members can bring to the group.  There are many times the above described members can seriously hurt the group if proper assessment and action is not taken.

For those who are participants in a group they may not have the slightest idea how stressful a difficult personality type can be for a leader who really does care about them, but has no idea how to help them and the group.  I myself have led many groups and every so often someone with some serious personality issues comes in and throws the whole group out of whack.  While you may not agree with everything Steve wrote, the article is meant to be a helpful reference point for leaders who find themselves in such a frustrating situation.  It's a tool for the tool box.

While no one likes to button hole anyone, the purpose of this article is more to help recognize the potential issue and help stabilize the group dynamics so that everyone feels cared for and accepted.  A good leader can help such a person find balance within the group and the leader can help the other members more effectively respond to such a person.  It can be a helpful starting point for many leaders who may otherwise feel completely helpless. 

Precherkid, I think Steve's intention is not homogeneity but rather some balance in the group.  It doesn't hurt diversity, but rather allows people to be themselves within the bounds of healthy group dynamics. Let me give you an example; I know of numerous groups who had a person  with severe co-dependency issues.  No matter how gracious people were to them eventually their personal issues and needs began to take over the group at every meeting derailing it finally frustrating members to the point of almost quitting.  Every meeting became about this person's problems which may or may not have been created by them.  The group was a mess and the leader was ready to quit.  No one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room, but it needed to be dealt with.

Many leaders struggle with these issues. It has been my experience that this issue is a very difficult one to talk about, but it is more prevalent than people realize.

I clicked on the link to this article specifically because I lead a small group and thought it would be good for me to learn how to encourage and help any of the members who might be "E.G.R" types. I agree that we can't label and classify everyone, but I find it helpful to learn different strategies and methods of dealing with different types of behavior.

As I clicked the link, I was hoping that the article would go beyond naming types of people and actually contain practical advice. This article definitely has some good, practical advice that I will find helpful as I lead my group.

Article seems fairly opinionated and controlling.

Perhaps attempting to go beyond diversity to homogeneity?

Allen,

  I do not want to judge Mr. Gladen, But I do not agree with these kind of approaches to classify human behavior. They fall short because we are all profoundly unique. It also assumes a arbitrary standard of behavior.   For instance, when someone is at the survival level, who are we to judge what the correct reaction is or what the Spirit driven emotional response should be to what ever the hurdle in life. These types of behavioral assessment programs can lead to false judgements because everyone displays some of these traits at different times.

  Leaders should be aware of the proper response to a tough small group situation but not assume that is who the person is. Small groups are a unique social environment that bring out behaviors that are unique.

  The author no doubt has good intentions but the proper way is to treat each situation in the meeting at face value without the judgements.

Ken

That's an interesting observation John.  For some that may be true.  But I know that when I'm tired I struggle to really actively listen.  Active listening makes me even more tired because my brain has to work so hard to really absorb.  But for some it may work.

posted in: Give Ear

I've sometimes wondered whether we are better listeners when we are tired, when we do not have the energy to respond or to try to "fix" things, so all we can do is listen and absorb.  :0)   So maybe there is a gift in being tired, sometimes. 

posted in: Give Ear

Hi Allen, 

   The use of small groups as you pointed out, are not without issue's. When I was a member of small group, I always thought there should be a open membership. Some group evolve into clique's which exactly the opposite of what they were designed to address.

  How you  accomplish this is a rotation every so often. This could help to spread the community within the church.

  They also need purpose. Your books  that you recommend cover this well.

  Just a note, I never realized how organized and supported small groups are at a lot of the churches represented here. When  I was a member, there was not much leadership or contact. Maybe I just didn't knoe about it.

Thanks Ken

A couple to add

On Philosophy & Beginning, the book Activate by Nelson Searcy. Our church adapted this approach and it's going well.

I just happened to visit http://www.smallgroups.com/ last week, and from what I can tell the philosophy is quite different from the Activate approach, but it might be useful for some churches.

I saw you mention Sticky Church in another thread and I might have to check that out. Larry Osborne's church is in a neighboring city to mine, and I've visited there a few times. They are very serious about getting people into small groups, although their strong won't-take-no-for-an-answer pressure to join a group was a turnoff for me.

Nicole, so sorry for getting back to you on this so late.

Are you a small group leader or director for your church?  You're right about the disconnect between the lives we live and the one's we should be living.  There are many church-wide campaigns for what you are asking, but they are only as effective as your church's discipleship plan and system allow them to be.  If you've been reading some of my latest blogs you'll know what I'm talking about: Are Small Groups Just Another Program? Thinking of a Discipled Person in particular.

Probably the single most effective thing that changes people's lives in small groups is when they learn to serve and do mission together.  Combining that with a solid discussion and study as well as sharing testimonies of how God impacted their lives is key to move people toward spiritual growth.  Oh yeah, the pastor and leadership have to be in small groups as well as the small group ministry champions in order for it all to work well.  Follow up is also essential after a church-wide campaign.

Have you spoken to your pastor and leadership about your concerns?

 

Allen

Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My

 

Ken

posted in: Cat? Turtle? Dog?

Amen to all that's been said here about SBSG's!  We've been using them now for a couple of years and it has been one of the  best things we have done to revive our small groups.  My teaching partner and I meet each week to put together the questions for that week's study.  There is some continuity that way no matter who is teaching the questions and the format are relatively consistent.

I love the way SBSG's get more folks thinking and moving in the same direction.  Since we tend to do 4 - 6 week series they are focusing on a specific topic for a longer period of time.

You are most likely correct. I have great open theological discussions with my kids and their friends. I find their incite  about life's issue's to be pleasantly simple sometimes. I think Allen it could be achieved but it would require the strong desire to listen to their wisdom and folly. you have to humble yourself so they feel confident to speak their mind. But like you said I too don't believe it will happen because we are all pretty broken.

Ken

We've tried it in a previous church. But the truth is both the adults and teens would rather not discuss their lives together. Having been a youth pastor for many years I couldn't see it working. Youth are dealing with vastly different issues of which they don't feel very comfortable discussing amongst themselves let alone with a bunch of adults who generally like to tell them how to live their lives. Our youth have their own small groups discussing things more pertinent to their concerns and in a way that connects with them. We do get adults and youth together from time to time for kind of round table discussions. We get them involved in other ways.

I personally don't think that just getting the youth and young adults into mixed groups will change anything. It's a whole church systemic and mindset thing that's creating a gap. That's a whole different discussion altogether.

Hey Guys ,

  Have any of your churches tried some sort small group with teens and adults. We seem to have a difficult time keeping our youth as stats say our average age is 52. I thought this could be a way to teach them what we believe in community setting.

Ken

Mike,

It's great that you've gotten some small groups happening at your church.  I can see how it could be a little difficult when you have a number of people doing the preaching.  Having a set format for developing your study guide helps tremendously with that.  My suggestion, if you haven't alread, is to make sure the preaching team and staff are on the same page as to what you're trying to accomplish with the groups in terms of end result as to how people respond to the study.  We are very focused on discipleship so we make sure that the application questions really take people beyond loosely applying the biblical text to their lives.  I've been told that my questions really challenge people to share their spiritual and personal struggles and then to receive accountability from the group.

It may be helpful too for everyone to have a copy of the small group leaders best friend, The Seredipity Small Groups bible.  There are questions for every pericope in the bible broken into three sections; starters, dig and application.  I always have it open when I'm putting studies together.  It can be helpful when you're not sure where to go with it or need a few helpful questions to include.

I'm happy to send you some sample copies of what I use here.  Just let me know.

Keep up the good work.

Allen

Phil,

That's awesome. That format is a great idea.  We've just decided to go the "window" route too.  People enjoy that.  A few groups prefer not to break too long.  But I think having seasons gives people a bit of breathing room like you said.

 

Love you book btw.  Freda and I have been using through Lent.

We started sermon-based small group studies about two years ago at River Park CRC - probably the best discipleship moves we've made in some time.  Beyond the discipleship piece, it's brilliant in it's community-building capacity.  Literally, everyone (well, all who are in a small group) is on the same page, interacting with the same materials, wrestling with common questions.  So what if you're in a different small group - you can still interact with other church members about the studies because you're all working off of the same page.  We also created three seasons or windows (each 8 weeks in length).  We realized that people commit in shorter bursts of commitment - so we have a fall, winter and spring small group window.  It allows for a "breather" time and if you want you can move to another group.  We created a basic template for each study so there is some uniformity in each study, no matter on who is preaching (at RPC, the preaching staff would created the study together).

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